May 28, 2008



I loved the feeling of being 'home' that I had in New England. People there live life at maximum intensity; everything matters. What text will be on the mural in the center of town, what store to shop at, trash collection: all subject to public and intense debate. I often feel like I have to tone myself down so I don't blow people away. Not that I need to take up all the space in the room, but I like to ask 'real' questions, dig deep and be honest. That doesn't always work in social situations. Yet, in New England, my friends all asked me 'personal' questions and I loved it. I wasn't the only one!
I'm over it

After my second trip in a month (the other just involving staying on-site in San Francisco for two nights), I think I'm over the travel for work bug. No matter how many people I visited with, the empty hotel room at the end of the night felt cold and very lonely. I can see why people fall into affairs if they travel a great deal. At least with the time difference between Boston and California, I could call Jrex at the end of the night and rehash the day, but it wasn't the same. No matter how luxurious, or how nice the view, the robe or the free shampoo, it's an empty box. When Jrex is out of town, the apartment feels lonely, but with the dog, our books, our music, our movies, it's a welcoming loneliness.

It's very hard to get back into the rhythm of work. I just don't care right now. Plus, most of my current projects are post-conference wrap up. Organizing files and making covers for presentations are just not the sort of project that gets my juices going. Knowing that I'll be on vacation next week is adding to my lack of motivation...
Don't you like mine better?

Vacation with the in-laws next week! Oddly, I'm looking forward to it. We'll have a few days with the whole family all together in a little house in Venice. I'm picturing our poor niece being pulled from one set of arms to the in, if she runs to Jrex to be held or read to, his Dad will get competitive and try to pick her up, too.

The other interaction that should be 'fun' will be photos in Yosemite. Jrex and his Mom both hate being in photographs and try to avoid it. His Dad and I both enjoy taking photos. The last visit we had with them, we checked out the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden State Park. All the way through, Dad K would exclaim, "Sun Ae (the Korean name they gave me), take a picture of that!" I would. Then he would. Then we'd compare. And I would say, "Wow, Dad, your picture looks so good. I love it!" Due to an intense, traumatic life, there are sides of him that are a seven-year old boy who is starving for affirmation. It doesn't hurt me to give it to him, though I don't know how I'll feel after four days of comparative photography...
Muttola Rules the World

I love having a dog that other people also enjoy. We keep accumulating dog-sitters for her. When I pick up Jrex from lab on weekends, I let her run around while we wait for him. A week ago, she ran up to a woman who was loading her car and looked ready to go home with her. (Muttola is such a scavenger that mostly, she's looking for food, but I don't let on) The woman later told Jrex that she would love to dog sit if we ever need it. That makes three different homes she can stay in, no charge, with people who are grateful to have a dog-fix. I'm all about helping people, so, hey, if having our dog at your house for a few days will be good for you, I'm right there for you! Self-sacrificing, humble, quiet, that's me.

May 25, 2008

Gift giving is so much easier this way...

Before marrying Jrex, I used to feel pressured by special events. I know for many people, finding the perfect gift is fun, but for me, it was usually a bit stressful with random times of enjoyment. I'm not a big gift giver. I love receiving them, but would much rather go and have an adventure with someone than receive a gift. Frankly, our apartment is full and we don't really need much.

Koreans, pragmatic and smart people, often skip the gifts for special occasions (it's for the ordinary event of seeing each other that the gifts some pouring forth). For our wedding, his parents chartered a bus and brought up 40 of their friends for the ceremony. Apparently, the Korean-filled bus spent the trip laughing, singing Korean hymns and folk songs and having a great time. They also financed our entire reception. If our Caucasian friends gave us money, it was usually $25. The Korean crowd started at $50 and went up (and this was 11 years ago). We kept a careful list of who gave us how much; that way his parents could give them the same amount when it was time for the friend's child to get married.

For 12 weeks this spring we endured the Dave Ramsey "Financial Peace University" materials with another couple. Ramsey has lots of practical advice, but it's mingled with showmanship and some fuzzy logic. Rather than participate in the big group class run by Smart Girl and her husband, we went through the material with another couple from our church, Bookworm and Hawaiian Girl. They are engaged to be married this summer, and today was her bridal shower. During the financial course, we had lots of discussions about white people vs Asians in terms of gift giving. Hawaiian Girl is ethnically Chinese, Bookworm is Caucasian. He was concerned by the growing guest list, knowing the budget and freaking out about having to figure out a way to pay for it. We explained the Asian way and told him not to worry.

At the shower today, I gave her a card with a pineapple on the front and a check inside. The text read, "Given all our discussions this spring, this seemed like the most appropriate, 'cross-cultural' gift I could give you." She cracked up when she read the card and crowed, "Money!" Most of the other guests were white and had given her gifts, they looked a little puzzled by the inside joke. One of them, another Caucasian woman married to a Korean guy, came over after the gift opening. "Before your marriage, did you ever give cash?" I laughed, "No! But it definitely simplifies life." She grinned her agreement, "I thought about just doing money."

May 22, 2008

Just for laughs

I have more to write about the Boston trip (dinner with an old boyfriend, lunch with Snickollet, dinner with another very dear college friend, observations about how anti-social I've become in crowds of strangers. I'm at my quota of long-distance friendships and don't seem to want to risk bonding with anyone anymore. I know how to chat people up and be friendly, I just choose not to most of the time. Very disorienting in the middle of hanging out with so many friends from the era when I was uber-friendly). 

In the meantime, my church did a series of hilarious videos to try to recruit people to help with the set-up and tear-down teams on Sunday mornings. The Godfather, Empire Strikes Back and The Presidents Men, all reconfigured. 

Here's the Empire Strikes Back:

May 19, 2008

Sneaking in a Post

I'm in Boston for a design conference. This has been the carrot that got me through the big bad show. I'm loving it. I'm staying in Back Bay which is very close to the place I lived for a summer back in '92.

I arrived Friday and scooted over to Amherst to visit my college. I stayed with one of my best friends from Hampshire, Theatre Geek and his wife, Being. Theatre Geek and I had a bit of an emotional entanglement third year and then as a result, didn't stay close our fourth year. I really missed him. We went to their wedding, he and his wife came to ours. We did Christmas letters, but that was it. I don't even have words for how redemptive the weekend felt with them. 

One funny incident. The two of them work at the Eric Carle museum in Amherst. They were kind enough to let me use their 20 percent discount at the bookstore. It's FULL of amazing children's books as well as pieces by illustrators like Barry Moser. I was totally overwhelmed by all the possibilities. Theatre Geek came in and ended up guiding me around to some of his favorites. One item I grabbed eagerly was the Barry Moser illustrated Bible. Moser creates intense, dark, emotional etchings and I've lusted after most of his books for years. There was a paperback version for only twenty bucks. Sweet! Theatre Geek walked me over to the cash register and told his buddy there to extend me the discount. The cashier saw the Bible and joked to Theatre Geek, "So, you trying to convert her?"

We glanced at each other and cracked up.

He shook his head with a grin, "No, it's a bit more the other way around."

I laughed, "Yeah, I tried, but it just didn't work out so well." I patted him on the back and he grinned at me while shaking his head.

I have tons more to write, but I'm typing this on a Macbook at the Apple store, so I'd probably better scoot.

If you had your pick of kids books, what would you have selected? I walked away from Allan Say's Tree of a Thousand Cranes, but it's on my list for next time!

May 13, 2008


I had a great weekend.

I did stay home on Friday. Jrex ended up trapped in lab until 11 pm or so, which was perfect for my need to have a day of nothingness. I stayed in bed reading most of the morning then migrated a great distance and lay around on the couch for a while. 

After so many changes of scenery, I was ready for errands on Saturday. Then, after dinner, we went to see Ironman. We are acknowledged geeks (sci-fi, fantasy, comics--all good), and we loved it. By Sunday, I was emerging from the cocoon and ready for outside people.

Church in the morning was really good. For the first time, Mother's Day wasn't painful at all. Not only is that because I'm at peace with my lack of a live Mom or of being a Mom, but it was cause of how Highway handled it. Rather than passing out flowers, they announced that the money they would have spent on flowers for all the moms in church was being donated to New Creation Home. It's a residential home for teen Moms where they are taught financial planning, job skills, anger management, parenting, etc. I loved that they were honoring Moms, but doing it in a practical, non-exclusionary way.

After church, Smart Girl picked me up and we took a picnic to the beach. Thirty minutes up and over the mountains, ten minutes in traffic, and we were at a free beach near Half-Moon Bay. Apparently it's a beach that is used for horse tours. Watch your step and pretend you like the smell! After lunch, we tried in vain to launch a kite. The photo of Smart Girl shows the highest we ever got the kite. As we walked down the beach trying to coax it aloft, I felt like I was walking a little neon dog. Jump! Jump! Alas, no go.

Saturday night, Jrex and I had a conversation about the island of plastic floating in the Pacific. When Smart Girl proposed a picnic at the beach, I knew I'd end up having to clean up plastic. Sure enough, someone had partied two-hundred feet behind where we sat. They'd even been thoughtful enough to leave the industrial strength garbage bag in which they'd toted drinks. Smart Girl was a little bewildered at my need to clean the beach, "Aren't there people who are paid to do that?" I shrugged, "Probably, but I see it and I need to respond."

Saturday evening was Supper Club. The interactions at Supper Club have gone up a notch. Not because of anything the women have changed, but our husbands are in a book club together. Let's just say, they call it a book club. They even read books to prep for it. However, those books are just a jumping off point for talking and sampling food and brew. Depending which of them you ask, I've also heard it called Drink Club or the Man Club. Last night, Hedonistic Outdoorsman mentioned how much he wants to grow rhodedendrons, Civil Engineer snorted, "I think you might be out of the man club now..." I laughed, "But, you can get back in if you go boar hunting!" The other wives exclaimed, "What?!" Inside my head, I winced, oops, maybe only the boys were supposed to know about that. Jrex tells me about the club discussions, but I don't think the other husbands discuss it much with their wives. . . Turns out Civil Engineer sent out an email asking the Man Club if anyone had an interest in boar hunting. Jrex doesn't, but was amused by the entire concept.

Later in the conversation, Only Child mentioned how happy she was that her husband, Hedonistic Outdoorsman, was learning sound board. She does some singer/songwriter stuff and has always been attracted to drummers or sound men. I nodded and mentioned, "I've always had a thing for bass players. Jazz, rock, folk, I like the bass." Only Child wrinkled her nose in confusion, "But the bass players are usually the geeks in the band." Jrex and I had just had a conversation the night before about how geeks are the overlooked dating treasure: under-appreciated and full of love to give. I smiled at Only Child and silently swung my hand in Jrex's direction--case in point. Everyone else at the table burst into laughter. Only Child looked confused, "Does Jrex play the bass?" I laughed and said, "No, but clearly, I like geeks!"

May 9, 2008

The fat lady sang

The show is over. Phew. In the end, everything looked fine on site. All the elements that bugged me on paper looked ok in real life. I might post pics on flickr in a few days and link there if you want to see. The client loved it all, so it worked out. The part that was truly our design looked SO good that it bummed me out not to have been able to truly design the whole show. Ah well. Hopefully next year.

The only weird thing that happened--on Monday and Tuesday, most of our team got what seemed to be a horrible case of food poisoning. I'd eaten what they had, but wasn't sick. Yesterday they said the CDC came in to check it out and thought it was an intense 24-hour virus spread by touch. They have to announce it to the attendees in case they get sick, but thus far it seemed to only be attacking staff.

I was on-site Saturday afternoon, all day Sunday and Monday day. I went back up Tuesday morning for the opening General Session. I'd expected some form of vision for the coming year or at least the announcement of the mystery website that had dictated this new look and feel direction. Instead it was a 'don't be shy, go talk to people'/tech love fest. I also heard that Neil Young would be there, so that seemed worth a train trip. He was there, but not to sing. Instead he announced his new website. Rah. rah.

It's 9:15 AM and I'm still at home. In bed. In my pajamas. Trying to figure out if it's ok to call my supervisor and just stay home today. I know it would be fine to do, I just feel weird taking a comp day knowing I'll take another next Friday (to go to Boston for the design show next weekend). Yet, I don't have it in me to even pretend to work.

I suspect this is what an actor feels like after a movie, or a stage hand after the play is over. You bond with a team, go through hell and high water to make it happen, and then are left wondering, "Is that it? Now what?"

I think I'll call my supervisor...

May 2, 2008

What a day it's been

Wednesday morning, I met people from the show to check the banners and signs before they were hung.

The banners were the wrong color. The color for this show can tilt toward gray or toward blue. All the structures made by the local vendor tilted blue, the banners tilted gray. Not a happy color for a large area with only those color banners.

Long story short, at 4 pm the VP who hired me called me over, "Three things, first, call your husband and apologize. Second, you're on a plane tonight to Detroit, third, go outside and get a taxi home." He offered me $40 for the cab. I shook my head, "They'll take a credit card." (From my house to work, 8 miles, it's $25-28, $40 isn't going to get me out of the city limits!! I walked down and grabbed the express train for $6 instead.

So, yeah, Detroit. Red-eye, three-hour nap on the plane. Toothbrush and paste at the airport, hat (very chic hat) and a change of clothes later, I'm at the mother ship. Our company's headquarters. Everyone was very nice. It's the midwest, people are required to be nice. They were also very white. And everyone had some connection to cars. The drivers chatted with me both ways (I just want to sleep! You're very nice. Shut up!), one had been a test driver, the other went to car shows for some reason. His son sold a $750,000 racing car to some oil-rich prince.

I delivered the color sample from the San Fran vendor, we spent two hours getting it matched perfectly. Then I worked on show stuff, sleeping between each key stroke, until lunch. Grabbed sandwiches with a bunch of the guys from the design department (they're all guys), got a tour of the HUGE facility, worked on more show stuff. Got to the airport in time for the flight to be delayed. Slept on the floor until some guy got on his cell phone next to me with a hard-of-hearing/stupid relation. "That's the day Sadie leaves, Sadie won't be there, Sadie will be out of town". I was ready to kill Sadie and solve every one's problems!!

I'm back at work waiting for a final approval before heading home. Tomorrow and Sunday are walk-throughs with the client and hopefully no more changes. Given the rate of chaos for this show thus far, doubtful at best.

But, hey, I've got major street cred now in the company. People came up to me all day, "You went to Detroit!! Really! Wow."